is a description of a 11-night/12 day Kids and Family African
Safari, from Mount Kilimanjaro through the northern wildlife
ecosystems of Serengeti and the Great Rift Valley, with an optional
4-night trip to the tropical beaches of Zanzibar Island. The trip is
planned to be both kid-friendly and parent-friendly. We have
designed the itinerary to focus on locations that allow kids some
personal freedom to safely explore their environment. For parents,
our schedule is designed to be affordable, yet provide an in-depth
family safari adventure in a stress free group environment.
Africa is a wonderful place for
kids, as there is so much to see and explore. It is also a place
where kids are looked after and cared for by their whole community.
Our safari will be no different, so you can enjoy your safari
adventure with a whole safari crew looking after you and your
is also an excellent time to be in Tanzania, as the weather is good;
there are few other visitors to the parks at this time; the airfares
are low; and the best lodges and accommodations are available.
group safaris are designed for active people of any age. Although
our safaris are comfortable and at times “luxurious,” they are
planned and designed to emphasize the quality and depth of the
experience rather than simply to maximize luxury, as these goals can
we have carefully planned this itinerary to share with you as much
as we can, all activities described in this itinerary should be
considered optional. Anyone who wants to take a break from the group
to relax and read a book under a tree while the camp crew makes some
popcorn, is welcome.
and Group Size
safari cost if using lodges throughout the trip for adults is $3,915 and children under 12 are
$2,895 and if
using lodges and three nights in luxury tents at special campsite in
Serengeti National parks on the trip for adults is $4,215 and children under 12 are
$3,550. An additional Zanzibar Island Excursion of 4 nights/5
days can be added for $1,580 per person. This cost does not include
international airfare. The cost is based on a maximum group size of
20 (adults and kids), and a minimum group size of 8. Reservations
are made with a $500 deposit. The safari cost includes virtually
everything from when you arrive in –country until you depart,
including meals, accommodations, transport, flights from the
Serengeti, park fees, guides, and even some wine with
Schedule and Description
We will meet your morning flight into Kilimanjaro International
Airport, or if you arrived the day before, we will pick you up at
the lodge we took you to. Then we are off to Ndarakwai, a private
11,000 acre reserve on the western slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. This
is an amazing place off the beaten path of most tourists. Here you
will have the chance to see a part of Tanzania that most people
don't get to.
The camp is a
permanent camp with luxurious tents under thatch and en suite
bathrooms, complete with hot showers. Okay, somebody has to
bring the hot water to the tent (not you), but the showers are hot
and wonderful after a day walking through the wilds. There is a
dining area under thatch with two beautiful fireplaces and couches
that are wonderful to sit on and talk of the day's activities and
adventres. We also have a campfire going if you want to sit under
the southern stars, enjoying a cold one and some popcorn while
trying to figure out the new constellations.
we are on the reserve, there
is no real need for everyone to stick together once we have our
bearings. There are guides, vehicles and mountain bikes ready if you
want to go walking driving or riding around the reserve. Or maybe
grab a book, binoculars and a camera and head on out to the tree
house overlooking the local watering hole. At the worst, it's a nice
way to spend an afternoon, and you never know if some elephant or
zebra will come by for a swim. Last summer we counted 68 elephant
coming to the watering hole over a two hour period What an
afternoon. You can take a walk around with Thomas, the head ranger
at Ndarakwai. He will show you many animals that you wouldn't
normally see and explain the medicinal qualities of elephant dung.
Or, you can just relax around camp. Oftentimes there will be baboons
paying in the meadow across from the tents and you never what will
come through the area. A
couple of years ago, the first person of our group to see an
elephant did so while having his morning tea near the dining tent,
as the elephant just walked through the camp, while everyone else
was out for a game drive.
spend our first afternoon on any number of adventures, or just
relax around camp and get over the jet lag. It's a great place for
the kids to run around so you will be able to relax without having
to keep an eye on them.
staff here are absolutely the finest and genuinely delight in having
the kids around.
2: Wake up in a beautiful place you have never
seen before, tucked on the lower west slope of Kilimanjaro. We will
spend two more days here. Breakfast is at .
If you so choose, you can get up at dawn and do an early morning
game drive with one of the guides, and return for breakfast. After
breakfast there will be plenty of time for more game drives,
walking safari through the reserve and visiting the
is a local school we can go visit that we visited last year that
eveyone enjoyed. At first it was a bit ackward, all the students
standing around looking at us and our kids, but a soccer ball came
out, teams were chosen and a rousing game of soccer quickly ensued
with one of our drivers officiating. The girls started showing the
moms some of their games, and one of our mom's, who is a pre-school
teacher when not on safari, showed them all the hokey pokey. There
was a tug of war and major jump roping. At one point we had five
kids jumping the rope until they all fell down from laughing too
hard. All too soon it was time for the kids to start walking home
and so we left, promising to come back again with a new soccer ball
and some reading books, which the school sorely
is also a Maasai boma (village) nearby that we can visit. It's fun
to go there around sunset as the Maasai are bringing in the cattle
for the night and milking them. into the gords. Thomas, who is
also a Maasai elder, can explain many aspects of village living and
some of the issues being faced by these people in these modern
is also a 7-year-old baby orphaned elephant, named “Nkarsis”
(“Princess” in Maasai), here at the reserve that was found separated
from its mother. Peter Jones, the reserve owner, took her in and has
nursed her back to health with special milk from
and round-the-clock care. Like all youngsters, she is playful and
loves attention. She now is off with a herd, but she comes by every
now and then and grazes nearby the camp and might come
wandering by to give us all a good sniffing! She has grown quite a
bit since this picture was taken.
dinner around the campfire. It is possible that local guests will
arrive from nearby villages and it’s time for stories and plans for
the next day. If you’re not sleepy, head off with a guide for a
night game drive.
will be a repeat of the previous day since there is so much to see
and everyday is different, or you can choose to take an optional day
trip up the slopes of Mt.Kilimanjaro.
This will be an all-day deal, but the group can split. For adults
and kids over twelve, we can go up through the Londorosi
Gate in the Land Rovers, about an hour away, then work our way up to
the Shira Plateau by vehicle -- an absolutely beautiful area
all the way. Farmlands give way to alpine and montane forests, which
then yields to high altitude shrub and flowers above the tree line.
It’s Kilimanjaro! Final elevation for the hike will be about 10,000
- 11,000 ft. There we can hike
around on the plateau for a few hours and then head back to
For those under twelve, we can head around
to the Kenyan side of the mountain to a couple of larger villages to
see how they live there. The Tanzanian Park service does not let
children under 12 up on the mountain. I think the reason for that is
that most people going up on the mountain plan on climbing to the
summit near 20,000 feet high. That kind of elevation is no place for
someone under 12, and the Park officials are not willing to change
their policy even though we are only going for the day.
for breakfast, pack up and say goodbye to Ndarakwai as we depart
for Arusha National Park (ANP), in
Rovers with open shaded tops. There is a lot to see in ANP and we
will be on foot for most of it. Arrive at ANP after about a
two hour drive. We will likely see a lot of wildlife and birds
on the way, especially giraffe, Cape buffalo, waterbuck and
zebra. In the park, a ranger will lead us up the slopes of
through a mostly alpine environment which includes open glens,
canopied forests, water falls and elephant grass. This place is
reminiscent of JurassicPark,
with African big game taking the place of dinosaurs. As the group
decides, we can either go slow and spend time observing a few
locations in detail or go more quickly and cover more ground. We
will have lunch on the trail and be back at the gate before
On past trips people have said this was one of the highlights of the
trip -- walking through a meadow with giraffe, buffalo and other
wildlife all around us. On the trail we will likely also see
elephant, colobus monkey, baboons, warthog and even leopard if we
back at the gate, we will head to the other half of the park,
accessible only by vehicle. This includes
and Crater. Expect to see large flocks of flamingos grazing in the
shallow lake. Small antelope called dik-dik and guinea fowl (kanga)
are also common. We also might get to see Mt. Kilimanjaro peeking
out of the clouds a short distance to the East.
will head to Tarangire National Park where we will stay at the
Tarangire Safari Lodge, overlooking the Tarangire River. There is
nothing like watching the sunset with a cold one in hand, watching a
herd of elephants cross the river down below.
Day 5: Waken to the sound of hundreds of birds
singing the sun up. We can go on a game drive before breakfast or
take a leisurely morning sitting on the deck listening to the birds
while sipping coffee or tea.
is absolutely our favorite park in East
There is just something about it. It’s laid back, wild and it always
makes you feel like we are the only ones there. Big fat baobob trees
dot the landscape, elephants roll in the mud down at the river and
prides of lions swagger around like they own the place…and they
lunch, we can have our choice of a picnic lunch or lunch back at the
lodge. After lunch, it's good to relax a bit around the
pool or sitting in the lobby looking out over the river. We will
our safari adventure
with an afternoon/early evening game drive.
Wildlife are usually the least active during mid-day, so this is our
time to relax also. We have the rest of the day to explore this
amazing park that straddles the TarangireRiver.
During the dry season it is the main water source for the wildlife,
so prides of lions take up residence near the river and wait for
lunch “on-the-hoof” to come to them. There are also lots of
elephants, giraffe, wildebeest, baboons, zebra and hyenas to be seen
here, in addition to an amazing array of bird
Day 6: A travel day. We break camp after breakfast
and will drive across the Loliondo Plains and the Great Rift Valley. Our night’s lodging will be
at the Manyara Lodge on the escarpment overlooking the
Great Rift Valley.
is classic Africa, with all the modern conveniences, a pool and
decks looking out over LakeManyara and the Rift Valley.
The grounds are large so the kids can run around without bothering
any other guests, the pool is always a favorite, and the view is
absolutely spectacular. This location is ideal for local cultural
excursions and walking tours in the surrounding communities.
The lodge is a 15-minute drive from the town center of Mto wa Mbu.
There is a bustling market there, and lots of things to see, do and
buy. This is also perhaps the best place in the world to buy
bananas…red ones, yellow ones, green ones; short, long, fat or thin.
They got ‘em all. Try the ones called ice cream
Day 7: A full day of individual activities
at Manyara lodge. This day is intentionally left unstructured.
The primary purpose is to
give us a break from the group activities and allow some individual
down time to explore on your own. We will leave it to the group
members to decide how to arrange their time; however there will be
lots of possibilities. We will arrange a guided cultural tour
through parts of Mtu wa Mbu to see how people live and farm in this
area. It would not be unlikely to have a quick pick-up soccer game
with the local kids. Last year it seemed that we had half the town's
kids incredibly interested in our kids. They don't usual;ly see such
a gang of western kids.
Maasai Market is in town and a great place to do some of your early
Christmas shopping. And if you want some dried fish, there is that
too. All the guides and vehicles will be available, and you are
welcome to go off on your own adventures. Talk with the guides and
they will help plan and arrange excursions for you. Or, just sit
back by the pool, gaze out over the Rift Valley, take a deep breath
and let it all sink in.
Day 8: After
breakfast, we pack up and continue west, 6,000 ft up into the
The Crater rim
is only an hour or two away from Manyara Lodge, so we will have time
to descend to the floor of the 100-square-km caldera for all day
game drives, birding and a picnic lunch by a small lake in the
Although there are
lots of bird species, including flamingos, vultures, marabouk stork,
secretary birds, etc, the kites that hang out at the lake where we
stop for a picnic can steal the show with their acrobatic skills.
These birds are a joy to watch even for a neophyte birder. They are
also brazen thieves and we will do well to watch our lunches
closely, as they are so agile and quick that they can swoop down and
pick a morsel of food out of your hand before it reaches your
crater also hosts a small population of extremely rare black rhino.
These creatures were hunted mercilessly throughout the ’80s for
their horns, but now conservation efforts have tentatively begun to
turn the tide. We don’t always get to see rhino here, but when we do
it is an inspiring sight.
will spend the night at the Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge high up on the
Crater's rim. Sunset on the deck with a gin & tonic, watching a
herd of elephants grazing 2,000 feet below is a most excellent way
to end an African day!
morning we will continue west down into the Ndutu short grass plains
of the southern Serengeti. On the way we will stop at Olduvai Gorge to visit the archeological site
there. It's afascinating place to visit as it
is where the Leakey's found the first evidence of early humans,
and there is an interesting little museum to visit. It's also a
welcome rest stop and a good place for the kids to get up and
continue from there
the shifting sand dune, which is a sand dune out in the middle of
flat scrub. It's a singular crescent shaped sand dune that has
slowly migrated along the plane. It's fun to climb up and even more
fun to jump down from. After the kids have had a chance to run
around it's back in the vehicles for another hour to the Naabi Gate,
entrance to Serengeti. We'll have a picnic lunch and head on across
the Serengeti to our camp.
Serengeti is about the size of a New
England state, and in contrast to Ngorongoro, has no
permanent human habitation other than some small park facilities. At
any given time there are perhaps less than a couple hundred humans
in the whole place. On the short grass plains, land birds such as
ostrich, cory bustard and secretary birds are very common. There are
also several species of vulture, which can amazingly appear in large
numbers out of a clear empty blue sky within minutes of a kill.
Cheetah, lion, leopard, hyena and other major predators rule the
camp will be an edge habitat between the grasslands and savannah
forests. We will stay here in our “island in the plains” for three
nights. There are lots of animals here and we humanoids will be
vastly outnumbered. Depending on the weather we may see the vast
herds of wildebeest on the plains or we will look for them farther
transit across the plains to our camp will take all day, so we will
arrive at camp at sunset. Our trusty camp crew will have a classic
tented safari camp ready for us including individual tents with
sheeted beds, a shower, toilet, bar, and dining tent. We’ll unpack,
open the bar, and have an elegant dinner overlooking the setting sun
over the Serengeti Plains. Look out around the camp perimeter with
your flashlight to see the glowing eyes looking back at
Day 10: Awake
to another most excellent situation in the middle of the Serengeti.
Plan on an early
morning game drive at dawn, with a return to the camp for breakfast.
After breakfast on this
first morning we will prepare for a journey along the GrumetiRiver where the
giant crocodiles munch unlucky wildebeest. The crocodiles will be
there, rain or shine, along with large herds of hippo, whom they
don’t dare mess with. There is a secret spot we have found here, a
rope bridge suspended above the river from which to watch the giant
crocs swim by.There is
plenty to explore or, as always, to simply sit and relax under the
shade of an Acacia tree and enjoy the sights and smells of the
have a few vehicles, so if people want longer game drives than
others, that is no problem. If kids want to get out of vehicles, we
can send kids back to camp where they can do the things they do
around a camp (without the exploring the area) while
the adults and older kids continue on game drives.
Day 11: Another day to explore the
Serengeti. There is so much to see and do in this wondrous area. Our
drivers will have talked with other drivers they meet and will have
some good ideas of where to go to see various animals. We'll talk,
confer and decide on what directions we want to go and then head off
to see what the day has in store for us.
Day 12: Another travel day, but not
in the Land Rovers. After breakfast we can go on short game drives
or relax at the camp before packing up and heading to the nearby
grass airstrip for the short flight back to Arusha; or for those
continuing their safari, on to Zanzibar. The view from the plane
as we fly over the Serengeti is phenomenal. The first time I made this
flight I looked down at the vast open plains, and the smoldering
volcanic cones in the distance, and imagined that I was in the
middle of nowhere. Then
I realized that, in fact, I was in the middle of everything.This is where life began for
us humans, ground zero for the explosion of human civilization, and
my trip here was really a homecoming to the cradle of our
birth.Seeing it from the air gives
one a grand perspective, and I couldn’t help thinking – there’s no
place like “home”.
that are ending their safari here will arrive back in Arusha with
the rest of the day to explore the town, shop and prepare for their
return flight. The rest of us, lucky enough to be able to stay on
for the optional Zanzibar stay, will continue on our
direct flight to begin our four days on the
the minds of most people, Zanzibar is more a mythical land
than a real place. The 800,000 people living on this archipelago,
the original Spice Islands, are part of an ancient culture unique to
coastal East Africa. Indeed, the
Swahili coast, and especially Zanzibar, is an incredible melting pot of the
dozens of seafaring peoples who have plied the waters of the
Indian Ocean—the Persians,
Portuguese, Indians, Omanis, and British, just to mention the
arrivals in the last 1,000 years.
Zanzibar is world famous for its
white sand beaches, azure blue waters and coral reefs, many
travelers here feel that beach life is but a small part of the
visit. Experiencing the multi-ethnic cultural diversity, the grace
and kindness of the local people, and the natural beauty of the
island, are all part of the exotic charms of the Island. Visitors here often find their real
element shopping and bargaining in the bazaar atmosphere of
Stonetown, finding exotic treasure they never thought of, for next
Day 1: We'll be met at the airport and
transported to the eastern side of the island to the Sau Inn at the
town of Jambiani. It sits on a beautiful lagoon with long white
beaches and soft blue ocean. It's a very different place than the
Serengeti, far less dusty and it is wonderful to jump into the warm
Indian Ocean or the pool to wash off the dust. The rest of the day
is free for swimming in the Indian
Ocean, relaxing on the beach or enjoying local
delicacies from the kitchen.
accommodations are located right on the beach, and there are lots of
activities for the kids to enjoy, including swimming, playing on the
beach, or taking a walk in town.
is a very friendly town and exptremely
Wake to the sounds of the ocean waves brushing the sand outside your
room and the smell of spice than permeates the air. Take a quick dip
or a stroll down the beach, followed by breakfast. We'll orient
you to the island and suggest a number of activities and excursions
that may be of interest. The schedule that follows is a suggestion
of some interesting activities. However, it should be considered an
open schedule that can be altered in any way or completely
morning, depending on the tides will be spent relaxing and playing
on the beach or going out on a sailboat to go snorkeling in the
lagoon. It's a great sail out to the edge of the reef, and
then we can put on masks and snorkeld (provided) and enjoy the
wonders that await under the water's surface. We have to do this at
high and will come in as the tide goes out.
area gets very shallow at low tide and it is fun to walk out through
the seaweed farms and see the women planting seaweed or harvesting
it. It is a new endeavor and very interesting.
pool is a welcome place to play and relax in the afternoon. There
are women on the beach that will draw henna designs on you too, or
borrow a bike and ride along the beach or in town.
Day 3: Awake early to drive
about an hour to the southern end of the island to Kizimkazi, where
we will have the chance to take a boat out to where the dolphins
swim. Then you can jump into the water and swim with the dolphins.
Though it is usually a very short time that you are actually near
these wonderful creatures, it is an experience that is hard to
the morning on the water, we repair for fish lunch along the beach
and then head to Jozani Reserve to see the red colobus monkeys. It's
a real nice place to walk around in and the monkeys can be quite
sociable and friendly. Back to the Inn for a dip in the pool
Another day in an island paradise. A good day to take a trip over
Stonetown sipping Arabian coffee and touring the shops. On the way,
we can stop at one of the island’s famous spice plantations. Ginger,
nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla don't grow in bottles. Your
guides will lead you through a tropical forest full of spice
treasures and you’ll discover the secrets about how these and other
plants are used in the Spice
Islands. Take some home if you
can also just
stay at Sau Inn and snorkel again out in the lagoon. It's a place
that I have no trouble just staying at.
On your last day on the islands, put the final touches on your
tropical tan, or depending upon your flight schedule, take a final
trip to Stonetown for last minute shopping and exploring the town.
It won’t take much effort to get all of your Christmas shopping done
here, and you can arrive back home with unique gifts that Wal-Mart
has never heard of, for prices that even they can’t match!
flights are either through Dar es
Salaam or Nairobi. For those who wish to stay
in Zanzibar or Tanzania longer, we can
easily make arrangements for you. Otherwise, we hope to see you
again next time!